Anadigm Inc. is dropping the entry price for its programmable analog chips below $5 to be more competitive with the discrete devices that they are designed to replace.
The AN221E02, slated for release next month, is at least half the price of the company's earlier Anadigmvortex field programmable analog arrays (FPAAs). To sweeten the deal, Anadigm is also providing free trial access to its development tools and a promotional discount on evaluation boards.
Lower price equates to fewer configurable resources, but potential users shouldn't see that as a limiting factor, according to Anadigm. Rather, the smaller programmable array could be an incentive for engineers to experiment with its dynamic reconfigurability, said Brian Hodges, vice president of marketing for the Campbell, Calif., company.
"With half the configurable resources to work with, users might need to reconfigure it on the fly to fit more functionality into one part," Hodges said. "We're hoping with this part to let people see the ease of designing with analog, and experience the advantages of in-system reprogrammability at a very low price point."
The Anadigmvortex parts are composed of tiles called configurable analog blocks (CABs). Each CAB contains some number of op amps and comparators, a look-up table, and A/D converter.
In the case of the AN221E02, two CABs provide a total of four op amps and two comparators, along with a look-up table and ADC. The device also provides two configurable I/Os and two fixed outputs. It has a signal-to-noise range of 80dB for broadband and 100dB for narrowband audio applications, according to the company.
Its dynamic quality comes from what Anadigm calls "shadow RAM," which allows users to upload a new program into the device while it is in operation. The part can also be statically reprogrammed on the assembly line.
The low-end chip should help Anadigm more deeply penetrate the low-bandwidth (<2MHz) applications it already serves, which include industrial, instrumentation, automotive, automated test equipment, and factory automation.
The company's existing products--$10 to $15 parts with four CABs and different amounts of I/Os--have been in production for a year, and are just beginning to generate revenue.
Admittedly, the higher-end chips were a tough sell to designers accustomed to paying around $1 for discrete analog devices, Hodges said, adding that customers appear more willing to pay a $1 to $2 premium for reconfigurability.
Its attractive price notwithstanding, the AN221E02 is unlikely to cannibalize any of Anadigm's existing products, Hodges said.
"These devices are very good at simple filtering, for example. If you want to do two or three filters, you still need one of our bigger parts, which can do up to eight filters. We think the bulk of our TAM is at the four-CAB level, though we expect the $5 part will be 10% to 20% of our volume."
For now, Anadigm is anxious to get the smaller FPAA into the hands of engineers, who are apt to tinker and find new uses for it. Free trial versions of the AnadigmDesigner2 design environment, with full access to the software's features, are available for download from the company's Website, www.anadigm.com. An evaluation kit, including a development board, entry-level software, and updated documentation, is being offered for $199.
Silicon samples will be available Sept. 30, priced at $4.95 in quantities of 1,000.